Casey Smith, 15, admits he doesn't have much deer-hunting experience.

Before Nov. 10, 2012, he'd killed exactly one deer, a cow-horn buck. But at a Moore County field that day, he bagged a deer that would rank near the top for any hunter.

"I was hunting in the afternoon after one of my dad's friends, Donnie Terrell, had hunted the same stand that morning," said Smith, a sophomore at Western Harnett High School. "We were at a farm with fields planted in corn and (soy) beans."

Smith was in a 12-foot metal tower stand on the side of an overgrown field near two soybean fields, one 225 yards away and the other 80 yards distant. Deer came through the grown-over field from bedding areas and nearby woods to eat the beans.

"I got in the tower stand about 2 p.m., and a doe came out of the woods about 5:10 p.m. to my left and pretty close to me," Smith said. "Then, (the buck) came out about 150 yards away. He was grunting so loud I could hear him.

"We had a staring contest when he was 130 yards away," Smith said. "He kept looking at my stand, and I was afraid to move. He finally put his head down, but he was facing me, so I didn't have a shot. It took another five minutes for him to turn broadside to me."

When the buck finally presented a good angle, Smith looked through the Simmons scope on his .308 rifle and put the cross and squeezed the trigger.

"He twitched, hunkered down, then ran 25 yards into a cutover," he said. "I was aiming at his left shoulder but the bullet hit him 10 inches or so to the left in the throat."

Smith waited until dark then walked to Terrell's truck. They searched later that night with flashlights but couldn't find any signs of a hit, so Terrell took the disappointed youngster home.

Smith and Terrell returned the next morning to search for the buck. Thirty yards into the cutover, Terrell found a drop of blood, then a pathway that looked like it'd been sprayed in red. After following that trail for 80 yards, he saw the buck on its side where it had bedded down and died.

"Donnie said, 'It could be him or it could be a log,'" Smith said. "I was happy it was the buck."

Taxidermist Charles Dycus of Sanford put a tape on the buck's 12-point non-typical rack. His score revealed 158 1/8 gross inches.

The youngster called his dad to tell him the good news but his father at first didn't believe he'd killed the huge deer. Terrell also kidded him.

"Donnie said he'd been hunting all his life and never had a chance at a buck like this one, and here I go, just starting to hunt, and kill a trophy and I'm only 15," Smith said.